He looked between the ball in his hands and the goalposts 45 metres away. He did his run-up – RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT – then in one motion he turned his right hip, swung his leg, dropped the ball, and struck it with his instep.
His aggravation broke the morning stillness. Frustrated that he was frustrated, he marched towards the goalposts. His studs and the morning dew combined to cut up the turf beneath him. The groundsman would kill him.
-“Rhythm Rhythm Rhythm,” he whispered.
He took one of the ten balls from behind the goal and soloed slowly to the 13 metre line. He held the ball in his fingers and pressed it gently to his chest. The dampness of the ball seeped through his jersey and onto his skin.
-“Let’s find your rhythm, my beauty.”
Arms extended, he held the ball in front of his torso. RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, hip turned, leg swung, ball dropped, instep struck, and the ball sailed over the bar.
He took a purposeful breath; imagined the frustration leaving his body. He trotted behind the goal, picked up the same ball, and this time soloed to the 21 metre line. Same run-up, same process. Over the bar again.
He had a little more pep in his step as he went back to the 45 metre line. Before he started his run-up, he studied the ball in his hands.
-“You’re getting there, my beauty. You’re getting there.”
He went through his process. He caught the ball nicely but he hooked it ever so slightly and it swung a few centimetres wide.
-“Is that you ruining my pitch again Seán?”
His serenity broken, he turned around and waved at the groundsman in the distance. He turned back, looked at the ball and allowed himself a slight smile.
“You’re not far off, my beauty.”